Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola said he believes Erling Haaland has the "right mindset" to rival the goalscoring achievements of all-time greats Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The 22-year-old took his tally to 44 for the season with a brace in Saturday's 4-1 win at Southampton, which moved City to within five points of leaders Arsenal.
- Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)
Haaland also became only the third player to reach 30 league goals during their debut Premier League season after Andrew Cole and Kevin Phillips, netting either side of Jack Grealish's 58th-minute strike. Substitute Julian Alvarez added a late penalty following Sekou Mara's consolation goal for the hosts at St Mary's Stadium.
Messi and Ronaldo have scored more than 800 career goals in their glittering careers with each still playing into their mid-to-late thirties.
But Guardiola, who managed Messi for four years up to 2012 at Barcelona, believes Haaland -- a €60 million signing from Borussia Dortmund last summer -- is displaying similar qualities to the vaunted duo, having now scored 200 times in 244 games in his career.
"To reach the level of Cristiano and Messi takes a lot of work," said Guardiola.
"They were never injured. Erling is so tall. He is huge. So he needs a lot of care from the physios. But since I met him he has the right mindset. His mind is in the right position.
"He lives to be professional and to compete. I see his reaction when he misses goals, even in training sessions. But he is frustrated for five minutes and then he comes back and does the job he wants to do.
"He puts pressure on himself like Messi and Ronaldo. When he doesn't score two or three goals he says 'what's the problem, what's the problem?' The numbers he has at his age are unbelievable.
"You see how many games Erling has played during his professional career and you compare the goals he has scored in that time to Messi and Cristiano, it's quite similar.
"I think Messi is a more complete player. He can play wherever because he understands the game.
"The other two, Cristiano and Haaland, are like a machine. But Erling knows the other two guys have dominated for two decades, not just one year.
"They have scored goals, won titles and done absolutely everything. I think football is a better place because of Cristiano and Messi because of what they have done for this business competing for the big clubs.
"Erling is just 22 years old and he is doing it in the toughest league in the world. I can talk because I've been in other leagues. Doing what he is doing is remarkable."